MANILA, Philippines – After 4 years, government nurses finally won their case when the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that their salary grades should be at 15 and not 10-11.
The SC decided during its en banc session on Tuesday, October 8, to uphold Section 32 of Republic Act 9173 or the 2002 Philippine Nursing Act which expressly said that "the minimum base pay of nurses working in public health institutions shall not be lower than salary grade 15."
"The Court declared as valid Section 32 of the Philippine Nursing Act," said the SC Public Information Office (PIO).
Ang Nars Party List went to the Supreme Court in 2015 because government nurses were relegated to salary grades 10-11 when former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Executive Order (EO) 811 in 2009. That EO was based on Joint Resolution No. 4 which allowed Arroyo to modify salaries in government. (READ: Why our nurses are leaving)
"In ruling in favor of the petitioners, the Court ruled that Joint Resolution No. 4, being a mere resolution, cannot amend or repeal a prior law such as RA 9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act. The same applies to EO 811 which is also not a law, but an executive directive," said the PIO.
But here's the catch for public nurses – the government cannot be forced to implement it without a separate law providing for budget.
"The Court did not grant the prayer of the petitioners to compel the implementation of Sec. 32 of RA 9173 since its implementation would necessarily require a law passed by Congress providing the necessary funds for it," said the PIO.
In the current tranche of salary grades, salary grade 15 earns as much as P31,545 a month. It could go higher to P33,279 a month. Salary Grades 10-11 provide for a monthly compensation of P22,055.
Low pay, coupled with long shifts, drive Filipino nurses to leave home and seek jobs abroad. – Rappler.com